This is the most beautiful grinder I 've ever seen, but it does have drawbacks.
Positive Product Points
The pro line grinder is absolutely stunning to look at. I still have not found a proper place to use and display it in my small kitchen. The feel of the controls is superb. Turning the knob and flipping the switch are pure joy. This is a grinder built to last a long time.
Negative Product Points
The downside is that you must skew the settings finer to produce the correct fineness for espresso(250 microns, I think), which means the coarsest setting will be to fine for french press (or vice versa). Too many grounds remain in the gear housing. Also, beans tend to remain in the hopper unless you shake it a bit.
I am somewhat of a novice so I don't know how much my opinion counts. I was hoping to find another review to compare notes. I had been eyeballing a Solis Maestro Plus, since I have heard good things. I received the KitchenAid Pro Line grinder as a gift, and I really enjoy using it. It is gorgeous to look at and is really sturdy.
Out of the box, it is well documented, and the manual is quite good. It is rated for around 800 pounds of coffee before the burrs are due for replacement. Two year warranty included.
The entire range of adjustments can be calibrated, which is a plus. However, the proper grind size for espresso and french press are above and below the factory settings ,respectively. I find that the factory set range works acceptably well for both.
Now to the hang-ups. I must tap, shake or otherwise agitate the grinder to get all the beans down the chute. It has a lip that catches beans and they tend to sit there if you don't knock 'em in. This may be remedied by placing an object into the throat of the grinder, above the auger which moves the beans to the burrs. I just haven't found something that will work safely yet. Next, and probably more importantly is the amount of grounds that pack themselves into the gear housing. After a few days of use, I opened it up (very simple ,by the way) and cleaned the gears out. I found roughly two ounces of grounds packed in there around the outside of the gears and in the center between the two gears.
The question to be answered: Is this acceptable in any grinder, much less a $200 one? The answer is: I don't know.
The grounds are packed exceptionally tightly, so they may not mix with new grounds and taint your coffee. The supplied cleaning brush will not remove them (try a spoon or other stiff, dull obect). You will have to add extra beans on the next grind after a cleaning (recommended monthly) to compensate for this.
I hope that others will try this grinder and give me some feedback. I like it a great deal, but I wonder if the Solis has similar drawbacks.
REVISION: After sending a complaint about the beans 'hanging up' in the grinder hopper, I spoke to a KitchenAid engineer. He said that they are aqare of the problem and are working on modifying the gear housing casting. I will cut the 'bridge' across the throat with a grinder and make a contoured plastic insert to funnel the beans to the auger.
I WOULD WAIT UNTIL THEY FIX THIS GRINDER DESIGN TO BUY ONE.
I go to William Sonoma frequently, and always love dealing with them. This was a gift however, so I can't relay this particular purchase.